I joined Facebook recently and already have lots of new friends.
I’ve used LinkedIn for years but derived very little value from it. I've found that startups and small technology companies use and get value from LinkedIn for sales purposes, and recruiters use it to research and fill executive job openings. In effect, it's a networked version of a resume library.
Facebook is my new LinkedIn. It’s easy to make friends who are not in the technology industry. I discovered quickly that going directly to a friend’s Facebook profile is a springboard for virally expanding my network. It's fast and simple.
By contrast, it has taken me years to create a LinkedIn network of 400 professionals. LinkedIn requires an extensive profile, an invitation, and an interrupt-driven process in order to build a network. Opting into someone’s LinkedIn network involves approvals, forwarding, and more approvals in order to build a network. Posing questions and getting leads on people to fill open jobs is not as organic or viral as Facebook’s wall writing, message sending, and application-centric processes.
Facebook’s historic and current user base is teenagers. But recently Facebook's professional user base has been expanding rapidly.
Teenagers already know the Facebook (aka “Fbook”) lexicon, but here's a primer for as-yet-uninitiated adults:
- Friending – A request to become a “friend” occurs after a viewing of a profile or photo, responding to an invitation, attending a meeting, etc. “Friending” occurs most commonly the morning after a teenager’s party when you can “bask in the new acquaintances” you met the night before.
- F’Book Stalking – Using Facebook to scrutinize every aspect of a particular friend’s or potential friend’s profile, posts, wall, friends, network, postings, etc.
Example: At a party you meet someone and say, “I know you from somewhere.” (In actuality, you “met” this person in Facebook earlier in the day via their profile.)
- Poking – Used in an innocent sense, this is when someone wants the attention of another. Used in a more romantic sense, this is when there’s an attraction between people. It’s an easy way to carry on a conversation and keep in contact. It’s also a way to “hook up” -- which, coincidentally, was the founding mission of the founder of Facebook when he was a freshman at Harvard.
- Poke Wars – Whenever you sign into Facebook, you have to respond to the poke. This could lead to protracted period of poking friends back and forth. There is often no sense to Poke Wars (just like that other war in Iraq).
- Wall-to-Wall – Checking the histories of walls.
Example: Let’s say X has been friends with Y for a long time. One day X notices that her friend Z is also friends with Y. She then proceeds to check the wall-to-wall between the two and discovers that Y and Z have had a previous relationship.
Two concluding points on Facebook terminology: (1) the meaning of terms varies somewhat depending on the person. A good example of this is poking, which can easily be misunderstood. (2) These terms are going to take on ever-new meanings in our culture.
Its youthful pedigree aside, Facebook is not just about “hooking up.” It’s about a new form of business communication and network building using a social network. It’s yet another instance of how a toy designed for teenagers – Macintoshes, iPods, and DVD players, to name a few – can work great in the business world.
So if your idea of social networking is hitting the hotel bar or playing eighteen holes with the bank vice president, it's time to look the future square in the Facebook.